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Watching The Detectives – Darkhaven Released..

by on July 10, 2015

Some years ago I was fortunate enough to find an online community of writers.  Within that community I also drifted to a group of strange, bizarre and enormously talented fantasy writers called The Alliance of Worldbuilders.  We all became great mates.  Several of us went on to self publish books, others to get contracts with small publishers, and as a group we are all enormously proud of one of our members: A F E Smith – who has deservedly landed herself a contract with one of the big boys – Harper Voyager.

Her first book – Darkhaven – has just been released, and it’s a cracker.  Fantasy, mystery, what more do you want?  As part of her hard work on releasing the book – and her Facebook release day party was frankly a masterclass in how to do these things, she’s written loads of blogs.  Here, she talks about some of her favourite work.  There’s only two I haven’t myself read yet, and I can add my appreciation of all her other choices, so Masque and Servant of the underworld sound like hot bets too!  Oh, and Chasing Azrael is another Alliance of Worldbuilders book, so go get that one straight away, after Darkhaven,,,

Never mind Darkhaven, what about …?

“The first thing they must have seen when they broke down Florentyn Nightshade’s door was the blood. Spattered across the walls, pooling on the polished wooden floorboards, dyeing the sheets to deep crimson: it didn’t seem possible for all that blood to have come from a single man. Not that there was much left in him. He lay sprawled on his back, bleached to bone white like driftwood left too long in the sun. The only colour in him was the night-dark hair that proclaimed his lineage, and the gaping hole where his throat had been.”

A blog tour can feel rather self-indulgent, what with all the talking about myself and my book. So as part of the tour, I’m presenting a series of posts that recommend other books you might enjoy. Each post picks out some great fantasy novels that have a particular feature in common with Darkhaven.

And as you may have guessed from the opening quote, today’s list is my Top Five books that combine fantasy and murder.

Storm Front – Jim Butcher

This, of course, is the very first book in the well-known Dresden Files, starring wizard and paranormal investigator Harry Dresden. And you can’t get much more murder-y than two people with their hearts torn out, right? This is classic urban fantasy, with a wonderfully detailed supernatural underworld juxtaposed with the familiar setting of modern-day Chicago. If you like old-style PI detective novels as well as a variety of paranormal creatures – vampires, werewolves, demons and the like – check out this series. There are plenty of books to choose from!

Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch

Another first-in-series, this time the Peter Grant series. I have a real soft spot for fantasy novels set in London, and this one is great! After a murder is committed, Peter Grant – a junior officer with the Metropolitan Police – takes testimony from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost, and finds himself an apprentice wizard in the tiny magical branch of the Met. It’s a great book, both fun and gripping, and the author’s knowledge of the city really shines through.

Chasing Azrael – Hazel Butler

This book is very different from the others in the list, and that’s a good thing! It’s a paranormal mystery, but not like those you might be familiar with from the urban fantasy genre. The protagonist is Andee, a woman who can communicate with the dead – one of whom is her own deceased husband. She is beginning to lose her own desire to live when her friend Josh is threatened and she finds herself embroiled in the investigation of a series of murders. This book is an intelligent, densely packed read that combines a deep knowledge of mythology and a real sense of the Gothic with a sensitive exploration of depression.

Servant of the Underworld – Aliette de Bodard

This is another first-in-series, but this time it’s a historical fantasy murder mystery – if we’re allowed that many genre labels on a single book! It’s the setting of this one, the Aztec Empire, that really makes this book stand out for me; it’s so good to find a historical fantasy that’s set in a completely unfamiliar time and place. The author combines meticulous and vivid detail from what we know of the ancient Aztecs with a set of more outlandish but still believable fantasy elements to bring this blood-soaked culture to life.

Men at Arms – Terry Pratchett

Within the Discworld series, the great Terry Pratchett wrote all kinds of books – and this one is essentially a murder mystery. The City Watch subset of Discworld novels is probably my favourite (Vimes! Carrot! Angua! Detritus! Vetinari! What’s not to like?) and of them all, Men at Arms is the one I loved first. It concerns the Watch’s investigation into a string of murders taking place in Ankh-Morpork, so it is partly a proper murder mystery, but the mystery element is coupled with Pratchett’s usual flair for comedy, wonderful characters and a very human concern for justice.

Masque – W.R. Gingell

I’m adding a sneaky sixth book here because I can’t really count it in my main list, given that I haven’t finished reading it yet! It’s inspired by Beauty and the Beast, but with the added twist of a gruesome murder early on. The narrator, Isabella Farrah, is amusing and intelligent, and the style of the whole thing reminds me of nothing so much as a fantastical version of a Georgette Heyer novel, only there’s a bloodied corpse in the card-room. Great fun!




So, that’s my list of books that combine fantasy and murder. What would you add?


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One Comment
  1. I’m honoured to be in such distinguished company! Totally agree about Terry Pratchett: Men at Arms is one of my favourites 🙂 So now I have MORE books to check out…the others sound right up my alley 😀

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